JAA to adopt multi-crew licence

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MPL to go ahead despite pilot union's safety concerns over accelerated implementation of training scheme

The European Joint Aviation Authorities expects to adopt its own version of the ICAO-sanctioned multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) on 15 November, but the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) remains concerned about the new programme's implementation.

Speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society's conference Flight Crew Training: Meeting Tomorrow's Challenges, JAA licensing director Fergus Woods said the MPL was "coming to its fruition point after four years of work".

ICAO will officially adopt the new licence on 23 November, despite IFALPA's concern that "an accelerated implementation of the licence, without certain protections, could erode safety".

The MPL requires student pilots to be trained as part of a crew of two, enabling the student to begin professional flying as an airline co-pilot. But IFALPA says it is "yet to be convinced" that the new licence will meet current safety levels associated with pilot training.

"Only a well-devised MPL scheme that is gradually introduced into common use, coupled with an effective advisory board system with a clearly defined charter that assists in implementation of any MPL scheme, will overcome the challenges posed by the new MPL concept," says the union.

Although Woods admitted that the JAA would "need to improve on version one of the MPL in the future", he said a step-by-step approach to reducing flight hours and increasing simulator hours should act as a compromise to "those who are sceptical of the simulation approach".

Training for the MPL will be split into four phases, the first of which focuses on core flying skills. This phase will involve "less than 140h, but more than 60h" of flight time, most of which will be airborne, but up to 5h of which will take place on a flight and navigation procedure trainer (FNPT I).

Future versions of the MPL would require "fine-tuning" of the feedback process as well as improved instructor requirements, said Woods. A competency-based approach to training and testing of theoretical knowledge were also on the cards for future versions.

A key feature of the MPL was enabling pilots to take the "right-hand seat" on an aircraft after 240h of training, said the licensing director. A key aim of the licence was to "train to proficiency, rather than test to destruction".